ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The University of New Mexico Board of Regents is considering changing the school’s official seal after some students said the current one is offensive to Native Americans.
Regents on Tuesday voted to create a process to design a new seal and gauge the cost of adopting it.
The university’s current seal, which was adopted in 1969 and depicts a frontiersman and a Spanish conquistador, has been criticized by Native American student groups as being racist. Critics say the seal reflects the state’s violent past toward Native Americans.
“We have heard them. We’re doing something,” said regent Jack Fortner
On Tuesday, four students met with the board, urging them to change to seal.
One of those students, Hope Alvarado, said she is a first-generation high school graduate and college student. She said attending UNM is very importer to both her and her family but that the seal makes her feel excluded from the campus.
“When I look at this seal, it symbolizes genocide of my people,” Alvarado, who is Native American, said. “It symbolizes the very traumatic history that my people endured.”
Opponents of changing the seal say replacing it could be costly, especially when so few students are opposed to the current seal. Board President Rob Doughty says that despite tens of thousands of people being in the UNM community, only about 300 have spoken out about the seal.
UNM’s Division for Equity Vice President Jozi De Elon said the regents did not say no to changing the seal.
“What I heard was, ‘Let’s wait and see what the cost is going to be,’ ” De Leon said. “I am hopeful in that we didn’t hear a ‘no.’”
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